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Elvis Presley: The Searcher Part Two

   2018    History
The second part of this series begins with his return home after his discharge from the army, and how he dealt with a rapidly changing pop scene.
The picture is more complicated than even a fairly serious Elvis fan may understand. Priscilla Presley, who made some appearances in the first part, offers much more here, helping us understand how being forced into making a string of lousy movies was one kind of artistic prison, and then being ensconced in casino hotels for his famous Las Vegas residency was another. The man who had so carefully created his original persona was now stuck in the shallow roles others forced him to play.
Series: Elvis Presley: The Searcher

Words on a Page

   2020    History
Writing itself is 5,000 years old, and for most of that time words were written by hand using a variety of tools. The Romans were able to run an empire thanks to documents written on papyrus. Scroll books could be made quite cheaply and, as a result, ancient Rome had a thriving written culture. With the fall of the Roman Empire, papyrus became more difficult to obtain. Europeans were forced to turn to a much more expensive surface on which to write: Parchment. Medieval handwritten books could cost as much as a house, they also represent a limitation on literacy and scholarship.
No such limitations were felt in China, where paper had been invented in the second century. Paper was the foundation of Chinese culture and power, and for centuries how to make it was kept secret. When the secret was out, paper mills soon sprang up across central Asia. The result was an intellectual flourishing known as the Islamic Golden Age. Muslim scholars made discoveries in biology, geology, astronomy and mathematics. By contrast, Europe was an intellectual backwater.
That changed with Gutenberg’s development of movable type printing. The letters of the Latin alphabet have very simple block-like shapes, which made it relatively simple to turn them into type pieces. When printers tried to use movable type to print Arabic texts, they found themselves hampered by the cursive nature of Arabic writing. The success of movable type printing in Europe led to a thousand-fold increase in the availability of information, which produced an explosion of ideas that led directly to the European Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution that followed.
Series: The Secret History of Writing

Changing the Script

   2020    History
The written word is so important in everyday life that there can be few more radical acts than forcing an entire nation to learn a new script. Yet that is what happened in Turkey in 1928 when Mustafa Kemal decreed that the Arabic script would be replaced by the letters of the Latin alphabet. Communication with computers using human language is usually made with Latin letters. This is how most Chinese people interact with their computers and smart phones, using a Latin-based phonetic script called Pinyin. As a result, even highly educated Chinese are losing the ability to write using Chinese characters. Could what is happening in China be the future of writing everywhere?
Series: The Secret History of Writing

In a Time of Shadows

       History
On the second part of his journey through the dark ages Richard Rudgley continues into the age of the wandering peoples, the Volkerwanderung. These Northern people enjoyed a golden age unaffected by Rome and just 30 years after the Romans relinquished Britain, the 'Anglo-Saxons' made their move. The bedraggled legions are in retreat. Walls are pulled down. Mosaics shattered. And yet there never was a people called Anglo-Saxon. We look at the lasting influence of Saxon leaders like Alfred the Great, and his blue print for social justice.
Series: Barbarians: Secrets of the Dark Ages

Out of the Darkness

       History
The third assault on the tattered remains of Roman civilization came from even further North, where the melting glacial ice had created immense sheltered fjords, leaving its inhabitants little choice but the sea. These fearless navigators understood that dominion over the oceans was the key to their ambitions.
Where the Romans expanded incrementally, the Vikings adopted a bolder, more aggressive approach. So was it the Dark Age which failed Europe, or the stifling uniformity of the great Roman experiment? Were the lost tribes more victim than failure? Richard Rudgley will hope to shed new light on the real secrets of the so-called Dark Age.
Series: Barbarians: Secrets of the Dark Ages
Leaving Neverland
Leaving Neverland

   2019    Culture
P.U.L.S.E
P.U.L.S.E

   2006    Art
Engineering the Future
Engineering the Future

   2020    Technology
Chef's Table
Chef's Table

   2017    Art
Natural World
Natural World

   2015    Nature
Out of the Cradle
Out of the Cradle

   2019    History
Eagles The Farewell 1 Tour
Eagles The Farewell 1 Tour

   2005    Art
Life of a Universe
Life of a Universe

   2017    Science